An advanced energy industry event Wednesday at the State Capitol celebrating Gov. Asa Hutchinson’s call for serious energy efficiency programs across all of state government turned into a pep rally for firms that have turned Arkansas into an energy-efficiency mecca.
“It was a win for everybody — efficiency contractors, utilities, and state government,” said Lauren Ward, executive director of the Arkansas Advanced Energy Association, which held the gathering in the Capitol Rotunda.
Though the governor himself couldn’t make it, he drew praise for his Executive Order 22-01, which ordered the studied implementation of energy efficiency practices in all state agencies aimed at eliminating unnecessary consumption and saving taxpayer money.
Amy Fecher, the state’s secretary of Transformation and Shared Services, represented the governor at the event, underlining his longtime commitment to efficiency and cutting out wasteful government spending.
"The ongoing efforts of Transformation create new opportunities to assess the costs of state government operations and implement innovative conservation and cost-saving measures,” Fecher told the crowd. “This executive order regarding energy efficiency is simply one more way we can engage in responsible stewardship of taxpayer dollars."
By coordinating new efficiency measures with the Arkansas Department of Energy and Environment, state departments are charged with developing strategic energy programs aimed at cutting spending by 15% to 20% a year.
That message was right on target for energy efficiency companies like Entegrity of Little Rock and Johnson Controls Inc., which has a significant Little Rock operation.
"At a time where our historical energy production methods are at capacity, this is a priority all sectors of our industry can get behind,” AAEA board member and Entegrity partner Matt Bell said in a brief address. "The advanced energy industry stands ready to help with next steps to make it as easy as possible for state agencies to meet the goals… This simply reinforces the Hutchinson administration’s commitment to transforming Arkansas’s state government for the better."
Savings at ASU
Shane Broadway, a former lawmaker and state official who is now vice president of university relations at Arkansas State, told the crowd the ASU System expects to save around $110 million in utility and operational savings over the next 20 years through $39 million worth of new systems installed by Johnson Controls. “It represents 611 million kilowatt-hours of saved electricity alone,” Broadway said.
After Johnson Controls completed efficiency work at Arkansas State’s flagship campus in Jonesboro, the university system hired it to address deferred maintenance and do sustainability and efficiency work across eight other campuses in the state. The $39 million in capital improvements included LED lighting, energy management controls, water conservation solutions in dormitories and other facilities, and upgrading HVAC and central plant technology. The total also includes a solar power project at ASU-Newport.
The AAEA event was a good forum for Johnson Controls to talk about its recent energy-saving initiatives for not just the ASU System, but also Washington County and the city of Rogers.
The company, based in Cork, Ireland, with its U.S. headquarters in Milwaukee, has partnered with 22 public organizations in Arkansas to decarbonize the air and save money. The reduced carbon is equivalent to taking a quarter-million vehicles off the roads for one year, and the cost savings for taxpayers over time is projected at a combined $229 million.
“Our partnerships across Arkansas are a perfect example of how public entities can support ambitious sustainability goals,” said a statement by Nate Manning, president of Building Solutions North America at Johnson Controls. “Through creative funding solutions, public organizations can make much-needed infrastructure updates that enrich their communities while reducing costs and meeting decarbonization goals.”
Work in Washington County
Rogers engaged Johnson Controls to cut city energy consumption to save capital. Company experts proposed building three ground-mounted solar photovoltaic arrays totaling 4.6 megawatts, the largest publicly owned solar facility in the state. It should provide $15 million in total utility and operations and maintenance savings alone for the Rogers taxpayers. The project included a 20-year performance contract and a 30-year generation warranty on the solar hardware.
Washington County was the first in Arkansas to acquire solar power through a performance contract, and is moving toward 100% reliance on renewable energy. Working with Johnson Controls, the county installed two solar arrays. Johnson Controls also retrofitted more than 3,200 lighting fixtures with LED lighting, replaced 53 HVAC components and installed energy management controls countywide. Total operational savings are estimated at $21 million.
Washington County is expected to reduce its energy consumption by over 161M kWh and save almost $21M in energy and O&M costs.